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Santos

Santos

Shares: $13.38 ( 0.15)

Santos has installed itself as the dominant player in the NSW coal seam gas sector, after agreeing to a $924 million takeover offer for Eastern Star Gas, as it banks on increased demand for the fuel in a carbon-constrained world. Once the deal is completed, the Hong Kong-owned electricity generator and energy retailer, TRUenergy, will pay $284 million for 20 per cent of Eastern Star Gas's assets. Shares in Eastern Star soared more than 40 per cent immediately after the news.

Sundance Resources

Shares: $0.535 ( 0.135)

It was just over a year ago that

Perth-based Sundance was reeling from the tragic plane crash in West Africa which killed its entire six-man board. It is now fending off a low-ball 50? a share, $1.4 billion bid from Chinese resources investor Hanlong, just four months after it acquired an 18.6 per cent stake in March. The two companies are understood to be locked in talks in Beijing, while there is also speculation of a rival bid coming from one of the big five miners.

Asciano

Shares: $1.70 ( 0.05)

Shares in rail and ports operator Asciano rallied on Wednesday after its stevedoring business, Patrick, announced a five-year contract with its largest customer, Danish shipping company Maersk Line. The new contract will mean Patrick moves an extra 190,000 containers off the docks for Maersk, or about 10 per cent of its total volume. Goldman Sachs estimates the contract win will increase Patrick's share of the market to just shy of 50 per cent in the coming year.

Harvey Norman

Shares: $2.34 ( 0.07)

The retail sector has copped a beating in recent months and Harvey Norman has been no exception, with shares in the company slumping to a post-GFC low this week. But analysts at Macquarie Bank hold a particularly dim view of the company, insisting its woes extend beyond the current slump in consumer confidence, or an influx of cheap electronic imports. In a scathing research note, the analysts say Harvey Norman is a "brand in decline" facing "further structural decline in earnings".

Paladin Energy

Shares: $2.69 ( 0.18)

The fast-growing uranium miner has frustrated the market once again this week with its over-optimistic forecasts, falling short of its production guidance and cutting estimates for this year's production output, with an extended wet season in Malawi being blamed. Paladin is also expanding its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia. But a far bigger catalyst for its recent share price has been talk of opportunistic takeover activity in the sector, with uranium stocks heavily sold down after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Woolworths

Shares: $27.84 ( 0.49)

The outgoing Woolworths boss, Michael Luscombe, has warned his successor Grant O'Brien to be "on his best game" to maintain earnings momentum through what he described as one of the toughest trading environments in decades. Mr Luscombe will hand over the reins to Mr O'Brien in October, just as all retailers brace for what could be one of the worst Christmas sales periods in years - and as Woolworths prepares to launch its new big-box hardware offering, Masters.


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